Turner's Public Spirit, May 12, 1923
A look back in time to a century ago
By Bob Oliphant
Center. About sixteen members of the Grange attended the meeting of Tyngsboro Grange on Tuesday evening at which the third and fourth degrees were worked.
There was a rehearsal at the town hall on Monday evening for the musical revue which is to be given in the near future under the auspices of the Grange.
An old-fashioned dance was held in the town hall on Wednesday evening. Hibbard’s orchestra of Lowell furnished the music.
Miss Hazel Pond, of Framingham, was a weekend guest of Dr. and Mrs. C. A. Blaney.
The Foresters are to hold a dance in the town hall on Friday evening of this week.
The Ladies’ Auxiliary held a food sale in the town hall on last week Thursday afternoon and nearly $20 was realized as proceeds. During the afternoon tea was served.
The common and soldiers’ lot in the Center have been receiving their annual spring cleaning this week.
There will be an auction sale at E. J. Whitney’s, Main street, this Saturday afternoon at one o’clock, at which time Mr. Whitney will dispose of various household articles, farming implements, etc.
A new radio set has been installed recently at the William E. Frost school.
If interested in renting a farm see advertisement in another column of this edition.
The following were unintentionally omitted from the list of Tadmuck [line of text missing in original] Paterson, Mrs. Clarence Hildreth and Mrs. Addie Buckshorn, art com.; Mrs. Albert Wall, Mrs. Harry L. Nesmith and Mrs. P. Henry Harrington, conservation com.
Academy Notes. There was a large attendance at the senior play, “The importance of being earnest,” presented at the town hall last week Friday evening. The parts were well taken and showed careful training under the direction of Miss Dorothy Latham, one of the members of the faculty. At the close of the second act Miss Charlotte Perry, on behalf of the pupils, presented Miss Latham with a five-dollar gold piece for her untiring efforts. Miss Latham responded in a few well chosen words. The cast included Edward Hunt, Raymond Shea, Herbert Shea, Alice Swenson, Alice Socorelis, Persis Ormsby, Olive Hanson and Richard Wall. At the conclusion of the performance refreshments were served and dancing was enjoyed with music by the Tadmuck orchestra.
The academy team played the Littleton high in Westford on Tuesday afternoon and won by the score of 17 to 5. The following is the schedule for the remainder of the season: May 15, Billerica at Westford; May 18, Pepperell at Westford; May 22, Littleton at Littleton; May 25, Ayer at Westford; May 29, Lowell Vocational at Lowell; June 1, Billerica at Billerica; June 5, Lowell Vocational at Westford; June 8, open; June 12, Pepperell at Pepperell; June 14, Groton at Groton.
The prize-speaking will be held in the town hall on Monday evening, May 21, at eight o’clock.
Eighty-two subscriptions for the Ladies’ Home Journal were secured by the pupils, which brought $41 into the treasury to be used for athletic purposes. William Watson and Annie Hunt were awarded gold pencils for getting the largest number of subscriptions, the former having twenty-seven, while the latter obtained eleven.
About Town. A few strawberries were seen in the blossom stage of evolution last Saturday at the Old Oaken Bucket farm. It shows that they have not forgotten how and haven’t been shown how very much by the weather.
Some of us thought that we were rather precocious by moving the previous question May 1 and planting half an acre of sweet corn at the Old Oaken Bucket farm, but while we were planting it a neighbor rapped at the field and we invited him in, and to pay us for our politeness in asking him in he chirped out this discouraging thought: “Oh, you think that you are so precocious precious smart in getting ahead of everybody in planting your sweet corn the first day of May. Why, my dear sir, you are away behind in planting it. I have got an acre of sweet corn just peeking through the ground.” He must have planted it when the Old Oaken Bucket farm was busy shoveling out the snowdrifts in the Stony Brook road so that we could get into the field, where sweet corn and St. Patrick’s day potatoes were to be planted.
There is some agitation of making two states of Maine by setting off Aroostook county, which is larger in territory than Connecticut and Rhode Island together, or Massachusetts with the cape left off, containing 6543 square miles.
Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Ripley, recently caretakers of the town home, have accepted a position with the Abbot Worsted Company at Brookside as superintendent of Abbot’s hall in Brookside.
David H. Sheehan is ill at the home of his sister, Mrs. Howard, in Lowell, and it looks now as if he would be unable to plant the ten acres of popcorn for which he bought the red popcorn seed of the Morning Glory farm.
Present indications are that there will be a large crop of peach blossoms. The peach orchard of W. R. Taylor will soon be in full bloom. He has between three and four trees’ worth, but is plowing for an acre on the Read land on the sunny slopes of Frances hill, with Baldwin apple trees as fillers, or else the peaches will be fillers, I don’t recollect just which way the sign does read. Present indications point to a large blossom crop of McIntosh, Duchess, Gravenstein and several other early varieties; no Astrachans and a very light blossoming of Baldwins. This is the Stony Brook Valley prospect.
About six o’clock on last Monday evening the fire company was called to a fire on Oak hill, near the H. E. Fletcher stone quarry. The company responded with speed down the Lowell road rushing with the memory of 800 acres burned over last year on Oak hill to accelerate the speed. The fire this time burned over 799 acres less than last year.
Alfred W. and John B. Hartford have leased the old homestead, the George H. Hartford farm, on Hartford road. Harry O. Hartford will be the caretaker.
The Lybeck family, from New York city, have arrived at their summer home on the Lowell road.
The next meeting of the Grange will be held on Thursday evening, May 17, and will be observed as patriotic night in charge of Mrs. Joseph E. Knight.
The Morning Glory farm has planted three acres of sweet corn and pressing more into the ground in addition to the fourteen acres of potatoes just beginning to look for sunlight.
The Old Oaken Bucket farm had a helpful visit on Tuesday from Herman E. Knight, superintendent of schools. The chat was one of agreement on everything except the tariff.
First Parish church (Unitarian) Sunday service at 4 p.m. Preacher, Rev. Frank B. Crandall, the minister. Subject, “The divine mother.” The young people of the parish are to meet Saturday evening, May 19, to organize a chapter of the national Young People’s Religious Union.
Why Willard Fletcher Bridge? Inquiry has been made about the arch bridge that arches the Stony brook on the Stony Brook road, who built it and when? It was built in 1845 by Artemus W. Cummings, son of Col. Timothy and Elizabeth (Whitman) Cummings, and uncle of Frank W. Banister. It is a most substantial bridge and has stood the wash wear of Stony brook and all of its tributaries, Keyes brook, from Keyes and Long-Sought-for ponds, Tadmuck brook that drains Tadmuck swamp, Bennett’s brook, the outlet of Bare Hill pond in Harvard that flows into Spectacle and Forge ponds, and Beaver brook that rises in Boxborough and Berlin and flows through Littleton to Forge pond. It is close to a century since this bridge was built. The stone was exhumed on Francis hill on land now a part of the Old Oaken Bucket farm, and part of the stone from which the bridge was built still remains as an imbedded monument of the days of honest, skilled labor that knew no strike except the honest strike of the skilled hammer. This bridge was built the same year that the Stony Brook railroad was built and prior to building the railroad there was no bridge there and fording the brook was all that could be afforded, and this of course was before the deep flowing from Brookside mills. This brick bridge has always been called the Willard Fletcher bridge; why, many of us have been unable to find out. If someone knows why, will he enlighten the writer, and he will make a specialty of enlightening the ignorant on the why question.
Pomona Meeting. Middlesex-North Pomona Grange held one of the largest attended meetings on last week Friday in the history of its organization, over 200 being present. Among those present was Berton T. Marcy, State lecturer; Charles M. Gardner, the highest official in the Grange in the country; Joseph Dummer, of Rowley, lecturer of Essex Pomona Grange, and J. Henry Johnson, of Leominster, of the State Grange. Mrs. Grace Dawson, of Tewksbury, lecturer of the Pomona Grange, devoted this meeting to “home day,” and in accord with this thought the State Grange lecturer spoke on “The Grange’s contribution to the home.” Papers bearing on the different phases of the home were read by Mrs. Etta Spaulding, on “A labor-saving kitchen”; “Most helpful household tools,” Mrs. Ida Whitely; “Helpful helps that have been invaluable to me,” Mrs. Leslie Putnam; “Should the wife have a weekly allowance, have a bookkeeping system for expenses, and why?” Mrs. Evelyn Richardson.
Charles M. Gardner, the principal speaker in the afternoon, took for his subject “Lest we forget,” or more clearly interpreted, “New England and its future.” In substance it was think, speak and act; optimistic about New England, displacing the altogether too prevalent pessimistic thought, “Well, new England has seen its best days.” A contribution was taken for the Grange education fund by the sale of canned fruits and vegetables, in charge of Mrs. Maude Gage, of Billerica, and Mrs. Maude Griffin, of Tewksbury.
A miscellaneous part of the afternoon entertainment was in charge of Mrs. Fred McMaster, of Chelmsford, and was in part solo singing by Mrs. Etta Thompson, and readings by Mrs. Emma Spaulding. The next meeting will be “field day meeting,” with Middlesex-Worcester Pomona Grange in August, time and place to be arranged for.
A Sight-Seeing Trip. We had a delightful and inspiring automobile trip to old Harvard last Saturday. There were seven of us bunched into the auto in leaving Westford, and when we got to Harvard we picked up a Savage and made out to pin him into the auto before we went to see Pin hill, which we circled clear around without Savage for guide. Several of the party climbed the most precipitous part of the hill, but personally I did not dare try it, not feeling sure that my head would balance my feet, although I had not been any nearer alcoholism than Vosteadism. The rocky crags and peaks of Pin hill are wonderful in contemplation of what vast geological upheavals by floods, fire, earthquake and volcanoes have preceded the upheavals of man.
In circling around Pin hill we were shown many points of historic interest which was a part of our special trip for going. The Hildreth Bros. shop was very much larger and more modern than we expected to see. In chatting with our Savage guide we found that the Hildreth Bros’ father, whose correct name is Abijah Edwin Hildreth, was born in Westford in 1809, being the oldest of six children of Abijah and Susanna (Hildreth) Hildreth. Another daughter of Abijah, Sr., Harriet Susanna, born in 1818, married Deacon George E. Burt and died in Harvard in 1849. Close by our guide showed us the Deacon Burt place, close by the charming, babbling little brook, the outlet of Bare hill pond. As I stood by this romantic and picturesque little brook, close to the residence of Deacon Burt (before his house was burned) memory went back more than sixty years, when I knew him in Westford, a constant attendant at church. His personality, as I knew him in Westford, appeared to me as I stood meditating at his Harvard home of my youth-day recollections of him in Westford. If we were going to build a house in Harvard to live in it would be beside the little babbling, romantic, picturesque brook that turned the water wheel of Deacon Burt’s mill and flows through the Old Oaken Bucket farm, onward to see the sea; at least from present evidence we are unable to find any other course that it takes, and apparently it has to run up hill to make a landing at the sea by this route or any other, except by way of the Nashua river, which is lower than Bare hill pond.
Our civilized Savage as guide pointed out the former residence of Mr. and Mrs. Sampson Fletcher, both former residents of Westford, and active in church, choir and Sunday school. By a previous invitation given to our guide, who acted as a proxy, we called to see Mr. and Mrs. Edson G. Boynton at the Cobb place on Oak hill, both former residents of Westford. Both are of a sunny disposition and have a sunny location, and between the two sunnies it makes a life bright and cheerful. They were both glad to see us and we reciprocated by want of ditto. They are expecting some peaches later on. We shall certainly be there later on and without even the formalities of an invitation.
Space prevents writing up all the views that started up a train of dormant, inspiring, sunny, happy thoughts, and time prevents seeing close to inspection of many interesting features of Harvard, and so we promised our Savage, who generously acted as escort duty and without thanks (excuse us, but we were so wrapped up in landscape glories and Pin hill’s scenery that we forgot our thank manners if we ever had any) that we would make another trip to Harvard about the time it is the season to sing “Oh what is so rare as a day in June?” and make a specialty of Bare hill pond with its natural power to make water run up hill. When we have done up Bare hill pond we will then do the observatory act at Lovers’ Lane and take the soundings of Hell pond.
Killed in Accident. In reading the account of the accident of Edward O’Brien, of Ayer, last week, memory called up several reminiscences. He was one of a large family of children of Mr. and Mrs. John O’Brien, who came from the west and bought what was known as the Abbot Reed or Henry Chamberlin farm on the Tadmuck road, recently owned by Perley E. Wright and later by Mr. Loveless. After the death of Mr. O’Brien [in 1909] the farm was sold and most of the family moved to Seattle, Wash., where several have died since. They were a jolly, happy, good-natured family and temperately alive to social life. Some of us were not aware that Edward was born in Westford, laboring under the impression that Mayor Harry L. O’Brien of Seattle, Wash., was the youngest and only one born in Westford, and who, since leaving Westford, served in the world war, and since returning has joined a Masonic lodge and is at present a member of the police force of Seattle, being one of the largest men on the force, being over six feet tall. We do not wish to be understood as saying that his brother Edward was not born in Westford. I have no evidence to disbelieve it other than mental impressions from a remote past, which are very liable to get tangled with other impressions.
Graniteville. Both mases in St. Catherine’s church last Sunday morning were celebrated by the pastor, Rev. A. S. Malone, who announced that the usual May devotions would be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30. Thursday being the feast of the ascension and a holy day of obligation, two masses were celebrated at 5 and 7:30 in the morning. Miss Alice Gower was heard in a pleasing vocal solo at the second mass on last Sunday.
Rev. John J. Shaw, a former pastor of St. Catherine’s church, now pastor of St. Michael’s church, Lowell, with Rev. James F. Lynch, also of St. Michael’s church, made a brief call on Rev. A. S. Malone recently.
At the morning service at the M.E. church on last Sunday the pastor gave an interesting sermon. Holy communion was given at this service. Mrs. Ruth Sawyer Woodsworth, of Somerville, was heard in a pleasing vocal solo.
The choir members of the M.E. church held a rehearsal on Thursday evening.
Mothers’ day will be observed in the M.E. church on Sunday.
Mr. and Mrs. Louis Almini and niece, of Wilton, N.H., have been recent guests of Mrs. Minnie F. Gray [probably Grey].
The Ladies’ Aid society of the M.E. church met with Mrs. H. D. Wright on Thursday evening and much important business was transacted.
- R. Taylor and R. J. McCarthy represented the Abbot Worsted baseball club at a meeting that was held in Boston on Tuesday, in connection with the foundation of a new twilight baseball league. Officers were elected at this time and much other important business was transacted. Full details will be given later.
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Farron and family, of Southbridge, have been recent guests of Mr. and Mrs. J. Ellsworth York.
Mrs. Fred Parker has a beautiful blue hydrangea in full bloom, and with her many other plants it forms a very pretty picture.
West. Miss Persis Ormsby of Westford academy has been enjoying a recent visit to the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. H. Ormsby.
High School Notes. The high school team played at Westford academy on Tuesday. The academy boys won the game 17-5.
News Items. The following real estate transfers have been recorded from this vicinity recently: … Westford—Amelia B. Mitchell et al. to Charles J. Willsted, land on Oak hill. …
Notes: Pin Hill is one of Harvard’s most important geological and historical landmarks. Over a quarter billion years ago, the tilted beds of dark gray slate-like phyllite and the pebbly conglomerate that now comprise the rocks of Pin Hill were then layers of black mud and gravel, probably lying at the bottom of a pond. Although conglomerate is a common rock type throughout the world, it is rare in central Massachusetts. The band which appears in Harvard is almost totally confined to the town, and is listed on geological maps as the “Harvard Conglomerate”. The slate quarries that dot the hillside were once the site of a flourishing stonecutting trade. Gravestones cut from Pin Hill are to be found in many nearby old cemeteries. See https://harvardconservationtrust.org/maps/pin_hill.pdf.
“What Is So Rare as a Day In June” is a poem by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891). It is actually part of a larger work, “The Vision of Sir Launfal,” written in 1848.